Does Anne Frank's Legacy Embrace The Children of Gaza?
Why Reread The Diary of Anne Frank After All These Years - or Who Is Today's Anne Frank?
My heart lies partially wrapped in pages from the diary, photocopied in memory from my reading place in the middle of the last century. It was easy to identify with this young teen, as we shared a youth in common, vastly separated by the details of our lives.
photo of my new book of the play.
Indeed, more than one young woman must have felt a kinship with Anne as she hid from and succumbed to the horrific crawling Nazis, while a western childâs inner waif sequestered from unreal menaces, likely instilled by unknowing parents and well intentioned civil defense minded elders.
As schoolkids, secure in an American town from any great monstrous local insurgency, Anneâs fears took on grave significance, by contrast, because for her the threat was literal and close at hand. It may be that this bookâs inclusion in a junior high school curriculum was not solely a propaganda shot; perhaps the purpose was to soften the worldsâ hearts to the plights of the Jewish people.
Enhancing capacity for caring for all disenfranchised peoples
It might be that Anne Frankâs harrowing tale was being used simply as a Western tool, an injection into the trusting spirits of western kids - akin to the periodic short films of the giant black bear, or dripping red stains spreading over maps of the world - a tool to inculcate fear of the foreign ismâs of the 50s. If that was the goal, it backfired on some.
After all, atrocities such as the world had never witnessed and written about in a girlâs hand, were suddenly broadcast, read and discussed in school classrooms, and performed in theaters.
I was prompted to reread the Diary of Anne Frank as part of an exploration of discovery on what we as a world people have learned from that period of atrocity. The Holocaust was perpetrated on a whole people because of their religion, by the Nazis, who got away with it for years prior to my birth. Anne Frank epitomized the opposite of the bigotry from which she suffered. I last read the book, and saw the play, during my schooldays and I wanted to read it again from an adult viewpoint.
In the conclusion I pose a question: what was it that we are to NEVER FORGET? Inhumanity, I think, but how are we using that remembrance now, for world betterment, in a way that honors this very compassionate girl, using the children of Gaza as an example?
LENSMASTERS: earn some points with QUIZZES at the end of the article!
Anyone Else Want To Read the Play? - here it is!
The play is based on her book: The Diary of a Young Girl. It is hard to imagine any reader not choking up on the young Anne's words, where she writes, from behind a hidden doorway, of her living belief in the wholesomeness of humankind.
I wanted the play format because that is the way I remember it, experiencing the high school play in 1962.
School Where I Read Anne Frank's Diary
When Did You Read the Diary
The residents of the attic displayed remarkably charitable comportment most of the time. Their lives depended upon it.
Anne and her sister were just teenagers during these years, along with the boy Peter. Adolescence and puberty, in addition to their individual temperaments, affected the relationships. Anne's portrayals of her comrades in isolation opens doors to reflection on the multiplicity of social interactions, heightened because of the close quarters and the life-threatening existence.
Did You Read The Diary of Anne Frank in School? Did you see the play?
1950s Civil Defense Films (now available on DVDs) Affected My Reaction to Anne Frank's Diary
To get a real sense of the western propaganda machine that warned American citizens and residents to be wary, to be very very wary, a reader might want to get this representative selection of Civil Defense Preparedness from the 1950s.
Communism was the great threat driving the fears. The U.S. had detonated two nuclear bombs, closing World War II in a flash of atrocity. It was felt important to warn the common citizenry about the potentials for disaster at home, around every corner, throughout every night.
Civil defense shelters were rapidly identified and labeled, and everyone was instructed on such basics as what to do, and when, in case of a flash - the main indicator of the detonation of a nuclear bomb.
These were the McCarthy years, when people were encouraged to report on their neighbors and family and coworkers whose offhand comment could be interpreted as subversive. It was a time of fear, and the DVD is full of survival tips.
I'd have to be a glutton for punishment to want to waken long slumbering fears in which we schoolchildren were bathed during a very frightening period.
Adding the first-person story of Anne Frank and her family's experience with the dreaded Reich to a western schoolchild's mind could have been overwhelming.
Some reacted logically, grasping the steps in preparedness as necessary and helpful components in removing fear from their lives.
Others grasped for security they felt they were losing in school and family. These films are well worth watching or showing for class discussion.
Recently a friend inquired of me the meaning of this book on my life,
in a quest to understand the mind of
a Westerner with a softly cushioned resting spot in her heart for Jews and other dispossessed peoples.
Unable to unearth my copy of the text,
I bought a copy of the play
by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett,
because it is the play that
in my memory,
informs my heart
No Way Down Out Of There for Anne's Family - some American kids also felt the 1950s fear of doom
Oh, 1950s schoolmates were plenty scared by the scratchy blank and white Duck and Cover films, but they portended a catastrophic heaven-sent explosion in the name of a foreign scourge, the Communist Atomic Bomb. By contrast, the Frank family had feared the actual foreign dehumanizing Nazi invaders who were most likely to snatch and burn in the night, or to send their neighbors off on the trains to oblivion, as if they were so much merchandise or meat animals.
Until the Armistice they, who traveled through the death camps to the ovens, or to starvation and eventual release, witnessed horrors unimaginable to most of us in 2013. Our ancestors in the West saw their pictures in piles, and groups like stakes - the survivors. The Frank family's sacrifice was huge - in every sense - including the loss of the documentarian, Anne, after her capture that silenced her teenage heart and voice, until Otto opened her diary.
For two years the Franks' party of eight had maintained silence over ten hours a day in confinement in a third floor attic of Otto's Amsterdam business warehouse, until the Gestapo's invasion, and their imprisonment in the death camps.
Our lives today are enriched out of the selflessness of the Frank family's Dutch protectors, whose devotion meant the party's survival during the first years of World War II. Because of that protection the diary and accompanying stories were safeguarded until after Otto's release from the prison camp in 1945.
After returning from camp, Otto Frank sought perhaps to gild his wife's and child's reputations by omitting mentions of strife between Anne and her mom, so he abridged the diary prior to first publication. One might think it was his final act of protection: removing Anne's openly harsh criticisms of her mom in the first diary series. As she grew into her adolescence she revised these lines as her understanding of life blossomed, near the end.
So it was that what young western classroom students were exposed to, following the dissemination of the printed versions of The Diary of a Young Girl, published in 1952, was a purposefully manipulated compilation. Some might say that readers' perspectives were short-changed by the hybridized assemblage of her father's hands. Later on he transplanted some text from the first version into the published manuscript of her second version, covering the same years, that entered the western consciousness during the 40s and 50s.
Of seeming significance are excisions of descriptive tracts about family relations and sensitive coverage of the writer's awareness about physical developments in her body. Apparently, the actual reasons for these cuttings remains unknown, but in 2005 the Critical Edition of The Diary of Anne Frank was published, including all the missing text.
Back in junior high school, my introduction to the story took place, in book form, but several years later our high school thespians brought critical scenes from those years of captivity to life in the play: The Diary of Anne Frank, tattooing a bleak and painful awareness on burgeoning consciences.
Scene From My High School Play
Envisioning the events that this diary covers is one thing, but seeing and hearing it brought to life right in front of me was quite another thing. The fact that I knew these performers, and that the play took place right in the familiar setting of my high school multi-purpose room doubled the impact for me.
Scene Where Otto Returns Home
After his release from the Concentration Camp Otto Frank paid a visit to the people who kept them hidden for two years, bringing them all their food and daily needs. This is when he received Anne's diaries and other writings from Miep, who kept the family alive, at great risk to herself. Without her preservation of the documents the message of Anne Frank would have been sorely lacking.
For me, seeing the play further built my capacity for compassion for those who are treated unjustly. What did it do for you?
Each Version Has Its Own Special Place - explore how this diary speaks to your heart of compassion
For a lighter weight acquaintance with the serious ideas in this book. I've never read a Cliffs Notes, but it may work as a study guide.
940 Reviews give 4.5 Stars. This book is packed with a history of Anne Frank's life, a meaty introduction, and a history of the times.
I keep wondering if the girls in Gaza can also Think Themselves Out like Anne did
"I want my writing to live long after me" - Anne said.
Anne Frank used the power of her mind to steady her in this most dangerous time when an adolescent of lesser strength may have rebelled seriously enough to compromise the whole party's safety. She was a typical teenager in many respects, acting out and arguing and challenging others, but when it all got to be too much she did what she termed thinking out as a way to mentally transport her back into a beautiful world.
I wonder if this is a technique used by girls from Gaza. It's unlikely, because their confinement has extended for over half a century, and for the most part they and generations before them have only lived lives of deprivation. The one thing the girls of Gaza can draw upon for strength is the depth of their faith in God, who they call by the Arabic word for God, Allah. And in that light their thinking out must place them in their visions of Paradise.
I cannot think of the story of this teenage girl without also thinking of her heritage. She respected not only the Jews in hiding with her, but also those who had no faith. Please share your thoughts in the sections below. Were Anne Frank alive today, would her compassion extend to the youth of Gaza, and by extension, to the youth in all situations of disenfranchisement? I tend to think so.
What Was Anne Frank's Gift To You
What is your take-away from this story?
Resource for Learning More About This Topic
So it's in this room of my life,
my small town papered with warnings
of gigantic explosions in the brightness of day
or blackness of starred night
at dusk the lights go down
and charming streetlights beckon through my low window
i see the stars reflected on the waters of the sound
my ceiling stoops on one end where
the big window lifts in and up
to hook the eyelet in my ceiling
life is splendid for a child of hope in spite of
the black and red giant's warnings
My tiny room, my small town
insulates against black and red dragon warnings
a-bleed in gigantic reeling films
Above, my stooping ceiling
helps the old window rise
to hook the eyelet
for a 1950s child of hope
life is splendid
despite the distant warnings— Leslie Sinclair 2013
This is a place for contemplation and discussion. Comments are moderated.